The Secret To Getting A Colorado Driver License If You’ve Lost Your License in Another State

By Jim Forslund

Don’t take the risk of driving on a fake license or an international driver license.

You have to start off with the Interstate Driver License Compact. And the compact basically says, for the states that are members, if you won’t give them a license because of a traffic matter, we won’t give them a license.

So, if any state has a hold on your license, it keeps you from getting a license in all the other states which are members of the Compact. Which is almost all the other states. In fact, even some of the non-Compact states won’t give you a license if yours has been taken away by another state.

And all traffic matters which caused you to lose your license are counted. There are also some non-traffic matters which may have caused it, too.

There is one exception to this. And that is Colorado.

You see, Colorado will give you a license if the applicable Colorado law allows you to drive here, if you are a Colorado resident (“Resident” means any person who owns or operates any business in this state or any person who has resided within this state continuously for a period of ninety days or has obtained gainful employment within this state, whichever shall occur first). This is regardless of what your home state’s law says.

In practical terms this means that if you qualify for a license under Colorado law, you must move to Colorado to become a Colorado resident and have not driven for at least a year. And you should also know that Colorado does not have a certain length of stay residency requirement if you have a job or are operating a Colorado business. When we talk I’ll give you more information about this.

How Do You Know If You Qualify?

It’s simple, really. All I need to do is ask you a few questions (Colorado License Interview), and I can tell you if you may qualify (But please understand, I cannot guarantee that you will get a Colorado license. I’m not the one who makes that decision.).

Except in a few cases, the longest you can lose your license here in Colorado for traffic matters is five years. There’s not much I can do about that. But if your state has revoked or suspended your license for 10 years, being able to get a license back after five years is very meaningful. Particularly if you are close to the end of five years.

Depending on your record, you may be eligible for a Colorado license after even fewer years. Here is the regulation that makes a license possible even though another state has a hold on you. If the hold is by Michigan or Massachusetts, just follow the instructions on this page. DO not call if the hold is from Michigan or Massachusetts, unless you are turned down in Colorado. You most likely will be issued a license in spite of the hold because they are not a part of the compact.

In addition, for a DUI conviction, if you’re a Colorado resident you can get a license with an interlock after one year in many cases.

Here’s Exactly How it Works

First, you would apply for a license here in Colorado. Because of the hold from another state, you will be turned down. You must have proper identification when you apply and must tell about the hold, unless the hold is from Michigan or Massachusetts. Also you will need documentation of your address. EFFECTIVE April 4, 2011 In order to be compliant with the Federal Real ID Act, ALL applicants must show one  document to prove their residential address.  (A minor child may use the parent’s address indicated on their license if it is correct.)  Applicants may provide one of the documents listed below if it contains the applicant’s current address:

  • Utility bill
  • Credit card statement
  • Pay stub or earnings statement
  • Rent receipt
  • Telephone bill
  • Transcript or report card from an accredited school
  • Bank statement
  • Mortgage document
  • Tax document
  • Homeowners/renter’s insurance policy
  • Vehicle registration
  • Other items with address that can be reviewed by Driver’s License personnel

When you are turned down, you should ask for a written denial.

We then request a hearing on your behalf. It will take a few weeks to get a hearing set up. At the hearing you may be asked to prove that you’re a resident, showing, for example, the fact that you have a job, Colorado business, or your address and how long you have been there, etc. Then we present documentation on why you lost your license. The hearing office will request information from the state with the hold, but seldom gets much, so you should have current driving records from all states that are holding you. You must also be found to be safe to put on the road. This is important when you have drunk driving convictions. You will need documentation of your alcohol classes, treatment and AA attendance.

The hearing itself is not lengthy. The whole process usually only takes about a six weeks or less… but don’t hold me to that.

If we’re successful here, the hearing officer will lift your denial. You’ll then have to apply for a Learner’s Permit (which includes a written test), go to a commercial driving school (because it takes what seems like forever to get set up for a test with the State), and take the school’s test. The driving school will provide you with the car and get you tested within a couple of days.

If you pass their test, you take the certificate indicating you passed the driving test which they give you and present it to the State driver’s license office to get your license.